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Former GM workers attend job fair

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Some former GM employees might consider new careers in aerospace after attending a job fair that showcased the industry's latest employment opportunities.

About 700 people attended the career fair at the UAW Local 1999 union hall on Friday afternoon.

Several recruiters said they want to retrain the GM workers, who once worked on automotive assembly lines, to meet the aerospace industry's need for skilled employees.

``They've got manual dexterity and that's critical in our industry,'' said Anita Brown, human resources manager with AAR, an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul company.

Six aerospace companies and Tinker Air Force Base hosted booths. The companies were looking for aircraft mechanics, sheet-metal workers and skilled machinists.

``I'm just looking at the different companies and seeing what's out there,'' said David Sherrill, who spent 27 years working for GM before taking an early retirement package. ``I'm still trying to decide if I want to get back into the work force and work for a company or start something on my own.''

The average hourly pay for workers at GM in Oklahoma City was about $25.

Most aerospace jobs start at about half that wage and progress to about $20 an hour.

``The economy is good,'' said Sandy Payne, work force program manager with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. ``It's not so good when you're used to making $20 or $30 an hour.''

When GM closed its Oklahoma City plant in February, about 2,200 workers were left unemployed. Most of those workers, about 1,570, have taken an early retirement package, transfers or buyouts.

Those who don't qualify for full early retirement will receive salary and benefits until the union contract ends in September 2007.

Workers from Johnson Controls Inc., a GM supplier, are still fighting for union benefits they said the company owes them from their labor contract.
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